Teaching in Southern China: Shenzhen or Guangzhou?

If you’re looking to teach English in China, you’ve probably heard of two cities: Beijing and Shanghai. Both are unique places to live and work as an ESL teacher, but did you know that Southern China also has a lot to offer? Shenzhen and Guangzhou are both emerging cities with many jobs available for teachers who want to teach English in China.

If you’re deciding between them, read on! We’ll take a look at what these two cities offer, how they compare with each other and why they might be the perfect place for your new life abroad.

Teaching in Southern China – What to Expect

Teaching English in China is a great way to make money and travel, but it’s also an opportunity to learn Chinese and see the country. Here’s what you can expect when teaching English in southern China:

  • Teaching English in China is lucrative. You’ll earn around $1,100 USD per month (based on 20 hours of work per week). This wage might not be enough to live on if you’re paying rent alone, but if your school covers your stay, you’ll have plenty left for food and entertainment.
  • There are many opportunities for travel within Shenzhen and Guangzhou and into surrounding cities like Foshan, Dongguan and Macau.

What is it like teaching English in Shenzhen

Shenzhen is one of the fastest growing cities in China and is a great place to teach English. It has a modern feel with its wide boulevards, skyscrapers and tall apartment buildings. The city also has some western influences, so if you’re looking for an international experience, this will be right up your alley.

The weather in Shenzhen is milder than in other parts of China—it rarely gets below freezing or above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). This makes it easy to enjoy outdoor activities all year long!

Transport is convenient because Shenzhen has an excellent public transport system that includes buses, taxis and trains, which can take you anywhere within the city quickly and easily.

What is it like to teach English in Guangzhou

Guangzhou is a city of 13,965,000 people in the metro area, and prides itself as the largest city in Guangdong province, and third largest in China. The weather is warm and humid, with temperatures ranging from as low as 18°C to as high as 38°C or 40°C in summer.

The people of Guangzhou are amicable and welcoming; they are generally good at English but have varying levels of fluency depending on where they live and work. As you would expect from a Chinese city, there is an abundance of restaurants serving all kinds of food at all hours.

There are several options for living in Guangzhou:

  • Live near your school—if you’re teaching private lessons or working at an after-school program, it makes sense to live close by so you can get home quickly after work if necessary.
  • If this isn’t an option, look for apartments close enough to walk or take public transport without needing Uber/taxi rides daily.
  • You may also want to consider whether having roommates will help keep costs down. Some teachers prefer living alone while others prefer having company around them. Either way, it’s best not to overspend.

Food Culture

Food culture is a massive part of Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Both cities are known for their food, and this is because it’s a big part of southern Chinese culture. You’ll find tons of street food vendors in both cities and restaurants serving all kinds of dishes from around the world.

The cost of living

The cost of living in Shenzhen and Guangzhou differ.

According to livingcost.org, the cost of living in Guangzhou is 21% less expensive than in Shenzhen. The main reason is that housing costs are much lower in Guangzhou, and you’ll be able to save more money each month if you work there.

The diversity

You’ll be exposed to various people, cultures, and languages. You will see new types of food that you have never seen before.

Additionally, many different dialects are spoken here, depending on where you live in either city in China. Some areas have unique dialects, which can be difficult for foreigners to understand without prolonged exposure or even learning the language (which is not difficult if you are dedicated).

Should I teach in Shenzhen or Guangzhou?

If you’re trying to decide between China’s two southern cities, we recommend weighing the pros and cons of each.

Shenzhen is a more modern city known for its high-tech industry. It has an international feel to it, and many English speakers work or live there. The city also boasts a large expat community that includes people from all over the world, so it’s easy to make friends here.

Guangzhou is more traditional but still very modern in parts of its downtown area. It features skyscrapers, shopping malls, and historical sites like Yuexiu Park. The Old House dates back hundreds of years when Guangzhou was known as Canton.


It’s time to get on the road and start your new teaching adventure! If you are ready to work in Southern China, we can help you find jobs in Shenzhen or Guangzhou. Contact us today for more information about our programs and how we can support teachers who want to teach abroad.

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